Indira Gandhi centre to teach Ramayana, Mahabharata, Vedas from this year

The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) has started three new post-graduate courses that focus on Ramayana, Mahabharata, Vedas and puranas. The organisation, which functions under the Ministry of Culture, is offering 11 courses, out of which four new courses – Hindu Studies, Bharatiya Jnana Parampara, Indian Literature and Museology – have been launched this year.

The session for this year starts on September 1 and concludes in May, 2023.

“Few universities in the country offer any course on Hindu Studies, besides the Banaras Hindu University and IIT-Kharagpur. The course is a summarised version of full-fledged Masters’ course being offered at these places, and includes Ramayana, Mahabharata, Vedic literature, Puranic literature and darshan (Indian philosophy),” an official said on the Hindu Studies course.

The course content for the Bharatiya Gnana Parampara is structured “to understand the idea of India”, an official said. Besides Hindu tradition, the course also offers a glimpse of Buddhist, Jain and Sikh studies emanating from the country. “It familiarises students with the teachings of Krishna, Buddha, Mahavira, Patanjali, Kabir, Aurobindo and Nanak,” an official said, adding, “No university in India is teaching such a course.”

The third new course focuses on Indian literature in ancient languages such as Sanskrit, Apbhransh and Prakrit, and modern Indian languages, including authors from across the country, officials said. “As many as 18 works will be taught in this course, such as those by Indira Goswami, Ghalib and Amir Khusrau, besides Ramayana, Mahabharata and Gorakhvani,” an official said.

“The focus of these courses is to bring humanities to the fore, with a focus on Indian knowledge traditions and Hinduism, which is not being taught presently at universities where focus is on the competitive job market. It is to take up what universities may be missing out on,” a source in the Ministry of Culture said.

As for the target group for the new courses, IGNCA officials said they perceive a huge curiosity for these subjects among young Indians abroad, besides academics, teachers, bureaucrats and cultural thinkers back at home. Even though the classes are physical this year and can accommodate only those who can be present in Delhi, from next year, the organisation plans to widen its reach through simultaneous online classes as well, officials added.

The courses are open to graduates of any age and any nationality. As against the sanctioned strength of 275 (25 for each course), IGNCA received over 520 applications, some of them including judges, retired bureaucrats and young students.

The post-graduate diploma courses were started in 2017, with three academic courses – Cultural Informatics, Preventive Conservation, and Digital Library and Data Management. Later, Buddhist Studies, Manuscriptology and Palaeography, South-East (Agneya) Asian Studies, Cultural Management and Applied Museology were also added. From next year, the plan is also to launch six-month certificate courses in several other fields, an IGNCA spokesperson said.

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